How Product Managers and Product Designers Differ (and How They are Similar)

Manali Mehrishi

5th Dec'22
How Product Managers and Product Designers Differ (and How They are Similar) | OpenGrowth

Both product managers and product designers are integral parts of the product lifecycle. They share a common goal to develop the most optimal product that satisfies the user in terms of features, functionality, and overall experience. But their duties, process, skills, and responsibilities are different.

Product managers work on the problems users have, find solutions, and create a vision for building a great product. They strategize how to reach there and what their team needs to do for those goals. Product designers look to implement the solutions defined by the manager to create usable and accessible products. They understand how a user wants to interact with the product and how a product must look, feels, and work.

Read on to find out the distinctions and similarities between the two roles and settle the debate of product manager vs product designer. We will also look at the benefits to an organization when managers and designers collaborate.


Product Manager vs Product Designer

Goals

product designer vs product manager

The goal of a product manager is to identify user needs and align them with the company’s vision. They take care of customer experience and find solutions for their problems. They need to develop the best strategies throughout the product lifecycle to optimize revenue.

Product designers take care of user experience. Their goal is to build an aesthetically pleasing product. They work with the development team to create the desired architecture and design. Designers are responsible for the look, feel, and accessibility of a product.


Roles and Duties

Product Manager:

  • Planning and creating a business strategy.
  • Gathering requirements for product development.

  • Build teams and coordinate with them throughout the lifecycle.

  • Monitor product development.

  • Collaborate with team members to test and launch products.

  • Collect customer feedback and perform market research

 Product Designer:

  • Design product concepts based on requirements.

  • Confirm and prepare design sketches.

  • Design functional products according to the requirements.

  • Conduct analysis and testing of prototypes.

  • Fix bugs and improve existing products


Skills required 

Product managers require management skills:

  • Excellent communication- Managers must know how to communicate effectively with stakeholders, clients, and team members. To be able to share their plans, guide the team and negotiate.

  • Technical knowledge- Though it is a management role, the managers should be acquainted with technical specifications.

  • Business acumen- Product managers deal with budget issues, sales projections, estimated revenue, and cash flow. Therefore an understanding of finances is a must.

  • Product managers also require market research analysis and marketing skills.

Product designing is a technical job that involves:

  • Knowledge of coding languages like javascript, CSS, c++, etc.

  • To create aesthetically pleasing products, product designers must be skilled in visual design elements like layout, color theory, and typography.

  • Grasp at User interface design(UI) and its elements like copywriting, front-end development, and interactive design.

  • Knowledge of information architecture and wireframing is another requirement.

  • Research, attention to detail, communication, and teamwork are interpersonal skills that a designer should possess to work within a team.


Product Manager and Product Designer Collaboration

product manager vs product designer

It's crucial for any organization for the design and production teams to work together. Collaboration between product designers and product managers can create spectacular results for both the customer and the organization.

  • Synchronized efforts toward achieving the goal- Since the designers and managers share a common vision, they should align their strategies by coordinating and communicating their ideas. 

  • Smooth workflow operations - Any miscommunication will hinder the workflow and delay productivity. An alignment between two teams will ensure uninterrupted workflow and timely delivery of products.

  • Better customer experience- When designers and managers collaborate, they can create the best version of their product and give an excellent customer experience.

  • Better conflict management- Conflicts are bound to happen when diverse people work together. But healthy conflicts about ideation and discussion are easier to manage than personal egoistic conflicts.

  • The benefit to the organization- Smooth workflows, faster goal achievement, and excellent customer satisfaction are what every organization aims to achieve. 

Product designers and product managers have overlapping roles and responsibilities as they work to develop a great product. They both create user research and document requirements based on user scenarios. 
Customer feedback is also essential for the designers and managers to update and modify the product. The end goal for any company is to create a loyal customer base that continues to use the product for a long time. 


Conclusion

Product managers focus on the problem, vision, and solution. They are involved in planning, execution, budgeting, production, testing, and deployment. Product design is part of product management. Product designers are responsible for the ideation, conceptualization, and design of a fully functional product.

The final goal of a product manager and the product designer is to create and deliver the best product possible for the consumer. 

It will be an effective corporate strategy to translate the battle of product managers vs product designers into a collaboration. When they align, the customer benefits by getting an accessible product with great features and usability, and the business will enjoy sustained customer satisfaction and competitive advantage.

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Manali is a versatile content writer with experience in creating compelling blog posts, website copies, and content strategies across several industries. She is committed to delivering top-notch content that meets both her readers' expectations and her clients' standards. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, baking, and acquiring new knowledge and skills.

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